Argentina … Not just Malbec!

Malbec World Day was invented and proclaimed by the marketing agency of Wines Of Argentina.

The first occurrence was April 17, 2011 and it is now celebrated every year in various cities throughout the world.

As charming as it is, Malbec is not the only wine grape grown in Argentina.  Take a poke around the shelves of your favourite wine store for other offerings from Argentina.

The fascination and folderol and very successful hype around World Malbec Day has eclipsed the just as interesting and often exceptional white wines Argentina produces.  And – just as decisively – it has overshadowed the other amazing wines Argentina produces.

Much as Malbec is Argentina’s lead red wine, Torrontes is by far Argentina’s best known white.  But in both the red and white wine categories Argentina produces much more than these two primary varieties.

Mix the richness of sun ripened Chardonnay with the zing of early picked Chenin Blanc and what you might come up with is Pampas del Sur Chardonnay/Chenin Blanc (621334) $8.99.  Sassy and affordably fresh and fruity, there’s a medley of sweet green melon and tropical fruit aromas and flavours over lemon and grapefruit notes.

Santiago Graffigna, a passionate explorer, was an Italian immigrant who arrived in San Juan – 160km north of Mendoza – in the 1860s. In 1870 he established Graffigna, the first operating winery in the province of San Juan. Located at the base of the Andes Mountains, the extreme climatic conditions, abundance of sunshine and minimal rainfall allowed the vineyards to flourish.

Made from grapes grown in from the Tulum and Pedernal Valleys, Graffigna Centenario Shiraz (226308) $12.00 veers away from the typical Shiraz blackberry flavours into raspberry and black cherry with a touch of vanilla and peppery spice and a hint of dusty smokiness in the finish.

Bodega Santa Julia was created in honor of the only daughter of José Zuccardi. With an ongoing commitment to sustainability, Santa Julia walks the tightrope between environmental practices and seriously affordable quality wines.

Santa Julia Cabernet Sauvignon (851386) $12.99 leads with woody, spicy, floral and fruit aromas. Classic blackcurrant and ripe plum flavours fill out this medium bodied red and slide into lingering notes of vanilla and cedar in the aftertaste.

Don Miguel, the founder of Bodegas Escoriheula Gascon was born in 1861 in Aragon, Spain, and grew up as a farmer. At the age of 19 he sailed to Argentina and established himself as a business man in Buenos Aires. In 1884 he bought his first vineyard and built his winery in Mendoza. 1884 Viognier (246165) $17.55 is a light and sassy Viognier wine with intense floral aromatics and flavours green apple, peaches and honeysuckle over bright zesty lemon and grapefruit.

Wines from the Masi Tupungato estate in Valle de Uco, Medoza are made with the appaxximento technique with grapes that are dried during the winter, concentrating their aromas and perfumes. This is a typical Italian winemaking method used extensively in Veneto’s Valpollicaellas. It produces rich wines, which unite Argentinean exuberance with the elegance of the Veneto.

An interesting and sincerely Italian kind of blend, Masi Tupungato Corbec Corvina-Malbec (788026) $27.70 pairs the inky elegance of the Corvina, with its cherry tastes and its velvety body with the tannic edge of the Malbec perfectly. The aromas of fruits-of-the-forest and conserves and hints of mint and cinnamon segues into flavours of plums and jammy cherries and a sprinkling of dark chocolate in the finish.

Originally Italian – like so many Argentinean winemaking families – Bonarda was until recently the most widely planted wine grape variety in Argentina. It has only recently been surpassed by Malbec in area. Despite this abundance, it has not traditionally been used to produce varietal wines – being used instead for bulk production of table wines. Occasionally it gets the treatment it deserves in the right hands.

Made from Bonarda grapes that are hand selected, destemmed and then crushed Famiglia Zuccardi’s Emma Bonarda (513309) $39.90 is aged in French oak barrels that add a gamey, earthy note to the flavours of blackcurrant, black cherry, figs and cocoa.  Intriguing elements of smoky cedar and jammy blackberry round out the medley of fruit flavours.

Take a break from Malbec and explore the other fantastic wines Argentina continues to offer us!

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